Gustatory-auditory synesthesia

It can also be called taste-sound synesthesia

Some synesthetes perceive sounds triggered by their sense of taste. These sounds can be either general or musical: tones, frequencies, chords, humming, crackling, mixes of different sounds. Some of these people hear them physically as if they were real, while others simply have a strong, consciously-perceived sound impression, being able to identify the exact tone and quality of sound that corresponds to each taste, automatically, easily and without hesitation: they don’t actually hear it, but they can reproduce it. The auditory impressions are consistent – the same taste always triggers the same sound – but are different for each synesthete. It is an uncommon type of synesthesia (Sean Day's study suggests that less than 1% of synesthetes have this type).

Here are some descriptions written by people with this type of synesthesia:

“Food tastes like a high or low pitched sound. Pumpkin tastes low pitch, sweets taste high pitched. Sour is crazy back and forth type sound, almost like an erratic buzz.”

(Source: This comment on Reddit/Synesthesia. 2017.)

“It’s a huge range from just a sort of background sensation of noise to so loud I have to stop eating to hear conversations. Some foods are more easy to pinpoint exactly what they sound like than others too.

Thornton’s special toffee sounds like one long steady note on a cello.

Meat usually sounds percussive depending on what it is and how it’s cooked.

Tomatoes are really loud for me - like trumpets.

Then there are foods that aren’t a musical instrument just noises so like Danish pastry is like the noise when you scrunch a crisp packet.

Mostly I didn’t realise it wasn’t normal and only really notice it when I eat a meal and either it’s really loud (and I have to stop eating to hear someone) or the sounds don’t go well together and it puts me off.”

(Source: This comment on Reddit/Synesthesia. 2019.)

There are tastes that I can only describe as shrill or dull or high pitched or stacatto or whatever. There just isn't another word. But those are all sounds or frequencies. There are some flavors that I can't tolerate (typically when something has gone off) because the high pitched ringing in my ears is so painful I can't work though it.

I just got done eating lunch. (…) And I thought it was like an exciting symphony.”

(Source: This post on Reddit/Synesthesia. 2020.)

"When I taste things, I also hear music, mainly chords – sugar and desserts almost always in major key and chocolate and coffee are particularly complex sounds, with overtones and harmonics. I love broccoli and cauliflower which are a cycle of fifths. Sushi tastes like power chords on an acoustic guitar. Lemon meringue pie is a concoction of A major chords and inversions, 7ths and minors."

(Source: the blog by L.J. Rich. 2014.)

Go to the page on olfactory-auditory synesthesia (smell-sound)


Go to the page on gustatory-visual synesthesia (taste-colour/shape)


Go to the page on gustatory-tactile synesthesia (taste-touch sensations)

This page last updated: 22 April 2021

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